A Pediatric Neuropsychologist uses standardized tests and observes behavior to define a child’s pattern of cognitive development. The child’s performance is compared to what is expected at the child’s age-level. The child’s individual pattern of strengths and weaknesses is defined based on this comparison. The pediatric neuropsychologist uses knowledge of brain development, brain organization, and the effects of various forms of brain injury on development to guide this assessment and to interpret the results.
How does a pediatric neuropsychological assessment differ from the testing provided by a clinical psychologist or
The pediatric neuropsychologist and the clinical or school psychologist may use some of the same tests. The pediatric neuropsychologist differs from other psychologists in what they do with the test results. The clinical or school psychologist is primarily interested in the score that the child obtains. The neuropsychologist is interested in how the child obtains a specific test score as well as in the pattern of scores across different tests. Skills are broken down into component parts, attempting to define a pattern of strengths and weaknesses. For example, a child may have difficulty following a direction because he/she did not pay attention to the direction, did not understand the direction, or did not remember the direction. The pediatric neuropsychologist works to understand where the child is having trouble and why. The pediatric neuropsychologist may look at a broader range of skills, evaluating skills not usually tested by the clinical or school psychologist. A neuropsychological assessment may include tests of the child’s ability to:
File information in memory and to retrieve this information once learned (memory skills)
Interpret what the child hears, sees, and touches (auditory, visual and tactual processing skills)
Coordinate what the child sees with his/her hand movements for activities such as drawing, writing, and manipulating objects (visual motor and fine motor control)
Understand what people say to the child and put words together to share information, thoughts and feelings with others (receptive and expressive language)
Initiate work, turning directions into a plan of action for doing the task, modifying the plan if it doesn’t work and keeping track of materials needed to do the task (organizational skills)
Pay attention, focusing attention on what is important for doing a task, and remaining attentive until the task is completed (attention skills)
Like the clinical or school psychologist, the pediatric neuropsychologist will use tests to document the child’s rate of intellectual development (intelligence – IQ) and his/her level of mastery of academic skills (achievement). The pediatric neuropsychologist may ask parents and the child to complete questionnaires about how the child acts and how he/she feels.
The pediatric neuropsychologist interprets the pattern of results in the context of information regarding brain organization, the child’s medical history, and the child’s developmental stage. An intervention plan is developed to support the development of weak skills and/or to use the child’s strengths to compensate for weak skills. The pediatric neuropsychologist can use assessment results to help parents plan for their child’s future.
For more information, check out this PARENTS GUIDE TO PEDIATRIC NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONS.